Play Then and Now: by Darlene Beck Jacobson

When I do school visits or talk to children about my book WHEELS OF CHANGE they often want to know how kids played and entertained themselves in the early 1900's.  Without electricity and electronic devices, children of yesteryear had to use their imagination to have a day of fun.  Inventing games and pretend play really hasn't gone out of style - I witness it every time I visit children on the playground or during their free time.

Toys have changed however.  Many of the things children play with today require batteries and often perform only one function.  Yet there are still some toys that have stood the test of time and continue to be popular.  During my research for the book - set in 1908 - I compiled this list of the top ten toys of the era. 

TOP TEN TOYS OF 1900-1920
1.   Teddy Bear (1902)- in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt who, on a hunting trip, had an opportunity to kill a bear and didn’t.
2.   Erector Set- invented by AC Gilbert, a gold medal Olympian in the 1908 Pole Vault.
3.   Lionel Trains (1901)
4.   Lincoln Logs (1916)
5.   Raggedy Ann Doll
6.   Radio Flyer Wagon (1917)
7.  Tinker Toys (1914)
8.   Crayola Crayons 8 pack (1903)
9.   Tin Toys
10.   Tiddlywinks
Baseball Cards  (1900)    Ping Pong  (1901)   Jigsaw Puzzle (1909)
Other popular toys included:  Snap Card Game, Playing cards, marbles, checkers, chess, yoyos, wooden tops, dolls.

How many of these toys do your children or grandchildren still ask for today?  When it comes to play, some things just can't be ignored.


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